On the outskirts of Mons, deep in the south of Belgium, a group of impressive young boys – clad in their black, orange and white livery – stepped from their bus into the village of Frameries. The smoke from a number of campfires spiralled into the air as the sounds of Flemish, French, Dutch, Luxembourgish and English voices drifted across the hard, dry fields behind the gates of RC Frameries.
Beyond the gates dozens and dozens of fast moving boys and girls dressed in brightly coloured and extravagantly patterned uniforms scuttled between the tents of medieval artisans and heavily armed knights. Barbeque smoke began to mingle with the smouldering campfires. A blacksmith pumped air through his coals as he prepared for a day of toil. The sun over-head steadily climbed in the sky behind, as did the temperature. The Jupiler van was already doing a brisk trade, whilst an army of volunteers hacked at a mound of French sticks in preparation for the hungry hoards that were sure to descend on their tent later in the day.
The boys in black had travelled from the north: the lowlands of South Holland. They were in town to play against their contemporaries from Belgium, France and Luxembourg in the 10th Tournoi de la Table Magique.
Over thirty teams had gathered under the fluffy white clouds and blue skies in this corner of Europe in order to pit their developing skills against each other. And, just as importantly, to celebrate an appreciation of the life skills that their chosen sport brings to them: an indebtedness to their team-mates and coaches; a recognition of their own faults and failings; an acceptance that mistakes will happen but no blame will be attached; a desire to learn and improve; an unbridled joy that their success brings them; a developing love for a sport that will be with them for life as players or observers.
As Sir Alex Ferguson might have said, “Rugby. Bloody hell!”
Rugby royalty was in town too. Stade Franҫais, Racing Metro, and Kibubu to name but a few. We had all heard of them. Now we could play against them as well!
The ferocity and intensity of two of the blue blooded teams undid the boys in black as they initially struggled to discover their bearings and quell their nerves. Putting the two opening defeats quickly behind them they soon found their courage, tenacity and skill as they battled their way to the climax of the day with four very impressive victories under their belts (see results below).
Battered and bloody they nervously mounted the stage at the end to claim a richly deserved “Fair Play” trophy for their wonderful performances – in defeat and victory – and their adherence to the spirit and rules of the game. It was Vince Lombardi who said that “winning is the only thing that matters in sport”. If he were alive today the great coach might have re-thought his philosophy as the weary, but happy boys dragged themselves from the stage and cheering crowds surrounding it.
As the team bus wound its way through the quiet streets of Frameries I was reminded of the words of Carol Dweck. “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” (Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University).
BSN v Stade Franҫais 0-2
BSN v Kibubu 1-3
BSN v Frameries 3-1
BSN v Kituro 2-0
BSN v Frameries 1-0
BSN v La Hulpe 1-0
Match Report: Richard Human